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COA reverses grant of woman’s unemployment benefits

June 27, 2016

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed unemployment benefits awarded to a woman after it found she did have notice her job was in jeopardy despite various notes thanking her for her help in office matters she received from her employer.

C.G. was terminated on Aug. 4, 2015, by an employer referred to as M.F. She filed a claim for unemployment benefits which at first was denied by a claims deputy with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. She appealed, and the administrative law judge found C.G. was not terminated for just cause, ruling the times the employer told her “thanks” or “thank you for your help” in notes sent to her about performance issues did not warn her that her job was in jeopardy. The ALJ held “a reasonable employee of Employer would not have understood that Claimant’s performance had violated a duty or that Claimant was subject to discharge for her job performance.” The Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development affirmed and the employer appealed.

In the decision written by Judge Elaine Brown, court said the record indicated C.G. repeatedly failed to complete job tasks and enter patient insurance information correctly as part of her job. The employer also received complaints regarding incorrect bills. The employer had several progress notes and showed that these issues affected revenue and were discussed with C.G.

“Under the circumstances, we conclude that Claimant showed carelessness or negligence to such a degree or with such recurrence as to cause damage to Employer’s interest, breached a duty in connection with work which was reasonably owed Employer, and that Claimant’s conduct was of such a nature that a reasonable employee of Employer would understand that the conduct was a violation of a duty owed Employer,” Brown wrote.

Brown also wrote that the notes concluding the letters and notes that thanked her did not change the fact that C.G. had notice regarding the expectations of her position.

The case is Employer v. Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and Employee, 93A02-1512-EX-2182.

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